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J. Kenji López-Alt

J. Kenji López-Alt

Managing Culinary Director

J. Kenji López-Alt is the Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats, and author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, where he unravels the science of home cooking.

A restaurant-trained chef and former Editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine, he is the author of upcoming The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, to be released by W. W. Norton.

He currently resides in Harlem with his wife and dogs.

He can be contacted at kenji@seriouseats.com

  • Website
  • Location: Harlem, NY
  • Favorite foods: Asparagus. Ramps. Freshly made tofu. Brussels sprouts.
  • Last bite on earth: Mapo dofu. Ramps.

From the Archives: Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb

Crisp-crusted, with salty bits of crackling fat and a moist, pink, juicy interior, a boneless roasted leg of lamb is one of those spring treats that makes me wish winter came more than once a year just so we'd have more excuses to cook it. I'm not sure exactly when lamb became associated with Easter, but I'd like to thank the person who made it happen (it baffles me how little lamb we eat in this country compared to the Big Three meats). More

From the Archives: How to Pick and Cook a Holiday Ham

Ham season is upon us, which means that we should all be brushing up on our cured pork knowledge. Don't know the difference between a city and a country ham? Don't know how to cook them even if you do know the difference? Don't know how to serve them once they're done cooking? Don't worry, we got you covered with answers to all those questions and more in our Guide to How to Pick and Cook a Holiday Ham. More

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

If the British can proudly call Chicken Tikka Masala their national dish, then surely it's time that General Tso got his chicken in our national spotlight. Everybody knows the candy-sweet take-out joint version, but I firmly believe that it has the potential to be so much more than that. How great would a homemade version of General Tso's be, with a flavor that shows some real complexity and a texture that takes that crisp-crust-juicy-center balance to the extreme? More

How to Make Macaroni and Cheese Waffles

Waffled macaroni and cheese might not rank quite as high on the list of "things you must try before you die" as, say, a fresh-from-the-water oyster, or a sliver of Parmesan sliced off of a wheel that has just been opened in front of your eyes, or skinny dipping in mixed company, but it's certainly good enough that it should immediately make your list of second-tier priorities.

That is, of course, if you do it right.

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Knife Skills: How to Debone a Chicken Thigh

Recipes often call for boneless skinless chicken thighs, yet finding them in supermarkets can be a bit of a hassle. You're far more likely to find bone-in thighs or even whole legs. Knowing how to take that bone out yourself will save you some hassle and provide you with some good bones for making stock in the process. Here's how to do it. More

The Best Lobster Rolls in NYC

After having tasted rolls from nearly every shop that specializes in them, here are my three favorite. All of these guys to it right. Their rolls nail that simple balance between buttery bun (top-split New England-style, of course) and sweet, fresh lobster meat that tastes of lobster, not mayonnaise or dressing. Any of these rolls would be worth a detour in a drive along the New England coast. More

Falafel Waffles = Wafalafels

This week, in our continuing quest to answer the all-important life question "Will it waffle?," we've had a number of deep failures, a couple of meh, I'd eat thats, and one rousing success. Namely, falafel. Actually, come to think of it, falafel was our biggest success and our biggest failure. It all depends on how you waffle it. More

The Arbequina Oil From Séka Hills is My New Favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I was first introduced to the Arbequina extra-virgin olive oil from Séka Hills by Chef Jesse Ziff-Cool. It was an exceedingly simple dish: A smear of gloriously creamy goat cheese on a crouton with a little slice of fresh California fig, a couple of thyme leaves, a sprinkle of salt, and a drizzle of that oil.

That's a combination that's hard not to swoon over, but it was the olive oil that really blew my mind. Holy s*%t! I thought to myself. What is the gorgeous stuff? And how could something with such a mild flavor still taste so good?

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The Food Lab: Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers

Scan your way through the internet or the cooking section at the book store and you'll find recipe after recipe for black bean burgers that follows the same basic procedure. I've followed a half dozen of these recipes, and while most of them produce pretty good flavor, they're all have one fatal flaw: mushy texture. What's the secret to black bean burger patties with great flavor and texture? I had to cook my way through a few dozen to figure it out. More

4 Close-Up, High-Def, Insanely Awesome Shooter's-Style Sandwiches

The idea of a party-sized, ultra-pressed sandwich is so appealing that I've spent the last few weeks brainstorming and testing recipes for versions of shooter's-style sandwiches that actually work. Check out our awesome interactive infographic to take a look at four of my favorites and get an up-close and personal look at what's in between the buns. More

Serious Entertaining: Ramps Ramps Ramps Ramps Ramps

Some people simply don't like ramps. I understand perfectly. Some people also don't like unicorns and rainbows and puppies or Mr. Wizard or telescopes or Calvin and Hobbes or holding hands or Super Mario or hugs or The Beatles or any of the other wonderful things that can make life worth living. Don't like ramps? That's your prerogative. For the rest of us, ramp season is a cause for celebration. More

The Best Bites at The Clam, Mike Price and Joey Campanaro's West Village Restaurant

There are plenty of things to love about The Clam, Mike Price and Joey Campanaro's new shellfish-centric seafood restaurant in the West Village . The menu can be a little perplexing in both format and conceit (is this upscale seafood shack food, or is it New American market-driven? Can it be both?), but there are good bites to be had amidst the confusion. Here's what to order. More

The Food Lab: How to Make a Muffuletta Shooter's-Style Sandwich

I'm going to go ahead and declare the Muffuletta the King of sandwiches. The New Orleans classic is made with layers of cold cuts and provolone cheese on a sesame seed-studded muffuletta loaf, dressed with a punchy olive salad. Typically, it gets wrapped in plastic and is allowed to rest for at least an hour or so to let the bread soak up some of the oil and vinegar from the salad. When you compress the same sandwich shooter's-style, it elevates the whole affair, forcing flavors to mingle even more than they normally do. More

Are Shooter's Sandwiches Really Worth a Damn?

The original shooter's sandwich is an involved, but conceptually simple affair—steak, mushrooms, condiments. But it's since gone on to lead a life of its own, totally dominating the world of "look what I made!"-style blogs, with each iteration one-upping the previous one with an ever-increasing number of toppings. But here's an important question: Is the original, simple shooter's sandwich really all that good? We constructed the ultimate version to answer that question. More

The Food Lab: These Are My Knives

These are my knives. There are many like them, but these ones are mine. Now I may take my love of knives to the extreme—I collect them like stamps—but every chef I've ever met who's worth his or her salt is proud of their knives. These are a mix of the ones I use the most often, the ones that have the most sentimental value for me, and the ones that I think are just plain cool. More

How to Marinate Meat for Stir Fries

@jimk9

Maillard reaction takes place between amino acids and reducing sugars, such as glucose, one of the two building blocks of sucrose (table sugar). You can't have maillard without both amino acids and sugars. Meat contains both, but adding a little extra sugar can hasten the results! And yes, there is also some caramelization going on, as there always is when some form of Maillard reaction is going on (you can have just caramelization without Maillard, but you can't have Maillard without caramelization).

No-Waste Tacos de Carnitas with Salsa Verde

The Pizza Lab: Bringing Neapolitan Pizza Home (aka 'The Skillet-Broiler Method')

@Aphalite

rolling does lose a little air so the pizza won't be quite as puffy, but that's not the end of the world. I personally think hand-stretched-but-ugly is better than rolled!

The Best F&$king Grilled Chicken Sandwich Ever

@BeavisPeters

THE POTATO CHIPS MAKE IT.

Also, quick tip: you can thaw out your chicken directly in a brine and you won't have to brine it separately!

Easy Stir-Fried Beef With Mushrooms and Butter

@BeavisPeters

Microwaving is a good way to do it. I do it with eggplant for stir fries as well from time to time. The salt is needed if you want it properly seasoned. The soy sauce does add some salt, but you don't want to add too much lest the dish get too wet and not sear properly.

Basic Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Roasted Cauliflower With Pine Nut, Raisin, and Caper Vinaigrette

@SnuggleBot

Agave would totally work!

The Food Lab: Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic and Rosemary

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

@morkai

Here's a guide to soy sauce!

Normally, "dark" soy sauces are less salty and a little heavier in flavor/sweeter. For this recipe, you want dark Chinese soy sauce, though even a dark Japanese soy sauce (like Kikkoman or Yamasa) will do.

Basic New York-style Pizza Dough

@ckotler

You don't have to, but it's better for your processor if you use that setting. It basically just gears down your motor so it doesn't burn out if the dough gets too sticky or tough to process.

For a Taste of Spain, Make Tiger Nut Horchata at Home

@momtimestwo

It does take a long time! Quick cheat: buy some almond milk and rice milk. Combine them, add a sprinkle of cinnamon, add some vanilla and sugar, and froth it up with a hand blender, then serve it on ice. Quick cheaty horchata, weeeeee!


@Beets/Lauren

though Barcelona is really far North as far as center of mass of Spain goes, Beets does have a point that many people wouldn't consider it "Northern Spain," which to my understanding generally refers to the areas between San Sebastian and Santiago de Campostela. I'd call Barcelona North Eastern spain, Mediterranean, or just Catalonia. Either way, it's a pedantic point and doesn't matter all that much when horchata is delicious either way.

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

@tea-and-syncope

Use the fried tofu from the king Pao tofu recipe I put up a couple months back with this sauce. Bam!

Mojo-Marinated Skirt Steak

haha, oops. I'll see if I can fix that link. Sorry about that!

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

@stjackson99

YES! Though you'd want to change the marinade ingredients.

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

@AimeeT

Interesting. I saw a bunch of recipes and videos from restaurants, and some of the techniques I tried were similar to that one, but I never tried kneading in oil at the end of making the batter. I'll give it a shot when I start work on a couple of similar recipes I have planned coming up (orange chicken and sesame chicken in particular). I did find that without a dry coat, you don't get the kind of cragginess that I really look for in great General Tso's.

Let me know how it turns out!

@mickeym

Flavorwise similar for sure, though a lot of the appeal of General Tso's is in the texture contrast!

@Kiefster

Hey dude, actually I honestly don't appreciate that attitude. Not because I mind the criticism on my articles, but because you're basically telling every beginning cook that their skills are a joke and that they should be able to do things without any instruction. Believe it or not, the majority of readers here are not trained cooks or extremely experienced, and the entire series of knife skills tutorials are successful precisely because I try hard not to make anyone feel like their skills aren't up to snuff. Comments like yours actively fight against that and make Serious Eats a less friendly place to come visit.

We all had to learn how to cook somewhere, don't pretend like you were born knowing how to julienne chicken or what slicing against the grain meant.

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

@elangomatt

To be honest, it's not particularly spicy. You get a lot of flavor out of those chilies, but without splitting them open, there's no real heat. You can always split them or add chili flakes if you prefer it hotter though!

Taste Test: The Best Frozen Veggie Burgers

@jezzfoodieme

It's because those burgers are both mock meat burgers, intended to imitate meat. Our criteria for this taste test was veggie burgers that are meant to taste of vegetables and grains, a different category. We'll be doing a mock meat taste test in the future, in which we'd include brands like those!

The Food Lab: 11 Essential Tips for Better Pizza

@lemonfair

Yeah, good eye!

It was a little confusing from a branding and searching perspective to have Food Lab, Pizza Lab, and Burger Lab, since they're really all basically the same thing (like, why not Meat Lab or Veggie Lab or X Lab?), so theyre all getting consolidated. All the content will continue to exist, of course!

Knife Skills: How to Slice Chicken Breast for Stir-Fries

@texas blues

Come on, you weren't born knowing how to slice chicken now, were you? Everybody's got to learn it some time. I can distinctly remember cooking in my younger days (or trying to) and messing this up, slicing the chicken in the wrong direction, or trying to slice warm chicken and getting really uneven slices.

@RealMenJulienne

I used to cut completely against the grain. These days I cut at a bias, because yeah, I like having a bit of that chewiness. I'll do the same with beef or pork from time to time, depending on the dish. Dry-fried beef in particular I like having long grains so that you really maximize that chewiness. The key is being aware of what you're doing, and making a conscious choice every time. Knowledge is power!

@aburitoro

Depends on the specific dish, but generally I do prefer thigh meat to breast meat.

@BeavisPeters

Yep, actually that article was what made me realize that we didn't have a basic knife skills post on how to cut up chicken for stir-fries, and it's something that folks to email me and ask me about.

This is the article you're talking about. It's a great simple recipe!

6 Smashingly Good Smashed Burgers

@yellowrice


Hell yeah, love that burger! I even wrote about it!

The Food Lab: The Truth About Brining Turkey

@ffluffy

Correct me if I'm wrong, but an ionic compound is a type of molecule. That is, all compounds are molecules, but not all molecules are compounds. Table salt is an ionic compound, which is also by definition a molecule.

NYC's Must-Eat Lamb Dishes

Don't forget the awesome Lamb Dumplings at Biang!!

Perfect Quick-and-Easy French Toast

@frblfrbl

I used to do that too! Actually, it was because I didn't really like my mom's french toast. She made it with really underbeaten eggs so it was essentially hard-scrambled eggs cooked into bread. Syrup and peanut butter saved it.

Back Of The House: The Life of a Cook's Illustrated Test Cook

@Bill Woods

When I worked there we had a "take home" fridge where leftovers would go. It would be empty by the end of the day. There's a large staff in there beyond just the cooks (art, web, sales, etc).

Macaroni and Cheese Waffles

@JerseyRED

Yep, it's how I always cook short pasta. Faster, uses less energy, same end results. See here for some more details: http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/05/how-to-cook-pasta-salt-water-boiling-tips-the-food-lab.html

The Serious Eats Guide To Pizza In Naples

A few months ago, my wife and I spent all of 24 hours in Naples on our way home from Sicily. It was probably the second-most pizza-packed 24 hours of my life (the first being when I took my Colombian brother-in-law on a whirlwind pizza tour of New York). We hit over a half dozen pizzerias over lunch alone, and a few more for dinner. Here now, I present to you the Serious Eats guide to Eating Pizza in Naples. More

Video: Serious Eats Cooks Peking Duck At Buddakan

Ever made a traditional Peking duck? Turns out it's a pretty involved process, requiring not only multiple steps but multiple days, cooking apparatuses, and spices. The end result: an incredibly crispy, juicy bird that's seriously delicious. Come along with Serious Eats's own Carey Jones as she learns how to make Peking Duck. Chef Brian Ray of Buddakan gives us the grand tour. More

60+ Holiday Snacks in 20 Minutes Or Less

Uh oh. The buzzer rings. Friends are coming over to spread holiday cheer and you panic. Serve frozen dumplings...again?! You can do better than that. Print out this list of easy-to-assemble, stress-free, mostly-sub-20-minutes-to-prepare munchies and paste it to the fridge. Here are 60+ dips, hors d'oeuvres, small bites, toasty snacks, sweet nibbles, appetizers, and more festive munchies to prepare in a snap. More

30 Cookie Recipes from the 2011 Serious Eats Cookie Swap

The Serious Eats Cookie Swap has become an annual tradition. We break out the Duane Reade tinsel and twinkle lights, and are forced to do a major office detox to make room for cookies. Many, many cookies. (OK, maybe a dozen doughnuts snuck in this year too). It was our third year swapping, and as per tradition, the tables were covered with butter-laden treats. Our NYC-based contributors really pulled out their ninja baking skills. Get all the recipes here. More

Serious Eats' Bacon Banh Mi

Our recipe for Bacon Banh Mi brings our favorite Vietnamese sandwich home, swapping out the usual array of cold cuts and charcuterie for bacon but staying true to the other elements that make this sandwich so balanced and irresistible. More

My All-Pie Thanksgiving Fantasy

When you think about Thanksgiving and you think about various elements of the Thanksgiving meal, it seems like you're just waiting through the big meal to get to the pie. I really believe this, which is why I always fantasized about an all-pie Thanksgiving. (Anyone with me on this?) At an editorial meeting about a month ago, we were at the office talking about Thanksgiving coverage and I shared this fantasy with the team. Knowing how much I adore and obsess over pie, the Serious Eats editors weren't too shocked, so we did the only thing we know how to do: make it happen. More

BraveTart: Make Your Own 3 Musketeers

Urban legend has it that some industrial candy snafu botched the names of 3 Musketeers and Milky Way. The tale has a certain logic. 3 Musketeers doesn't have three ingredients but Milky Way does. And the very name Milky Way recalls the smooth, uninterrupted creaminess found in 3 Musketeers. Those kinds of wonky urban legends ran amok in the eighties, but we have the internet now, so let's clear this stuff up. It's not a tasty tabloid tale of "Switched at Birth!" but rather "Murder, She Wrote." More

BraveTart: Make Your Own (Better) Soft Batch Cookies

When you first joined me in my quest to unlock the secrets of culinary time travel, I told you it would take equal parts science and magic to make the foods that could power the flux capacitor of the mind. I said, "leave the DeLorean in the garage, preheat your oven to one point twenty one gigawatts, and rev that Kitchen Aid to eighty eight mph. We're going back to the Eighties." And we did. But while there, what if some careless action altered our timeline? Could we, like Marty McFly, inadvertently create an alternate universe? One where the Keebler Soft Batch Cookie tastes freaking delicious? Friends, this isn't speculation. I have done such a thing. More

Sauced: Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce

This "Memphis-style" is my favorite to make at home—it takes the aspects of sweet tomato-based sauces I grew up on, but by dialing back the sugar and amping up the vinegar, creates a sauce where seasonings and spice are more defined and achieves a pleasing balance between the main defining aspects of a barbecue sauce. More

Boston: Fried Ipswich Clams at B&G Oysters

These are the only fancy-restaurant fried clams I think are really worth the cash ($14 half/$26 full). That they start with Ipswich bellies makes all the difference; these juicy, sweet, whole-belly behemoths are harvested from the mud flats off Ipswich, where experts claim that the particularly nutrient-rich soil gives the bivalves their superior, almost nutty flavor. More

Boston: Tamarind Bay's Lalla Musa Dal

As food aesthetics go, the murky, rust-brown, pebbly lalla musa dal at Tamarind Bay Coastal Kitchen can't compare to the restaurant's other specialties like the fennel cream-sauced cauliflower dumplings or the spiced lobster tail. But famed Indian chefs like Julie Sahni don't consider this dish "the most exquisite of all dal preparations" for nothing, and speaking in terms of decadence, it outclasses the rest by a long shot. More

Guide to Grilling: Planking

For all that I've grilled (150-plus recipes and counting), there's always plenty of uncharted territory. One of those areas: planking. There aren't usually many planking recipes in cookbooks, save the ubiquitous planked salmon. Put simply, planking is cooking food directly on a piece of hardwood. When cooking this way, the surface of the food touching the wood picks up some of the plank's natural flavors. More

How to Make Bagels at Home

I don't use the word magical lightly, but there really is something wondrous about making bagels at home. Maybe it's the shape. I think most everyone understands a loaf of bread, but the round shape with a hole ... well, it seems like a whole lot more work than simply plopping some dough in a loaf pan. But it's not. Really. Try making just one batch of these, and I'm sure you'll have the process down pat. Put on your sorcerer's robe and follow along! More